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Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters

Norton, John D. (2011) Approximation and Idealization: Why the Difference Matters. [Preprint]

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It is proposed that we use the term “approximation” for inexact description of a target system and “idealization” for another system whose properties also provide an inexact description of the target system. Since systems generated by a limiting process can often have quite unexpected, even inconsistent properties, familiar limit systems used in statistical physics can fail to provide idealizations, but are merely approximations. A dominance argument suggests that the limiting idealizations of statistical physics should be demoted to approximations.

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Item Type: Preprint
Norton, John D.
Additional Information: For updates, see
Keywords: Approximation, idealization, phase transitio, thermodynamic limit
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Condensed Matter
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: John Norton
Date Deposited: 25 May 2011 16:05
Last Modified: 25 May 2011 16:05
Item ID: 8622

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